medicinal herb is in the same family as the chrysanthemum and sports daisy-like flowers that are packed with vitamins and potent medicinal benefits. Calendula can be used to flavor foods or to make dyes.
Known as 'Herb of the Sun', Calendulas have been held in high religious and spiritual regard for centuries by the Greeks, Mayans, Hindus. Calendula flowers are commonly used to adorn the altars of deceased relatives during the Mexican Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations.
Calendula is antiseptic, anti-fungal and has precursors for human hormones and Vitamin A, so it is strongly recommended by many holistic healers. Its gentle but potent ability to heal and reduce inflammation also makes it a wonderful addition to bath and beauty products, like bath infusions, face washes and shampoos. It can be used on animals as well. Taken internally as a soothing tea, it can also be used to treat stomach pain, inflamed lymph nodes and liver conditions.
Characteristics: Bright yellow, orange and gold blossoms bloom on long stalks.
Light: This is an easy to grow annual that requires full sun.
Water: Grown as an annual, this herb requires regular waterings.
Soil: Requires well draining soil.
Use: This plant is treasured for its free production of bright flowers over a long season. Leaves can be eaten fresh in salads or cooked like spinach. Use the flowers as well.
Extras: Make sure to cut back in mid summer to encourage blooming into the fall.
To make a healing calendula infusion:
dried petals or flower heads
glass jar with airtight lid
Make sure that the petals are completely dry (if they crumble when rubbed) as water can cause spoilage. Fill the jar 1/2 with the petals, and fill the jar with oil. You can use almost any oil, but grapeseed oil or a non-virgin olive oil is best. The infusion process is simple; you need time. About a month should do it, and make sure that your jar is exposed to both light and heat. You don't need to 'heat it up' but keeping it in a sunny window or by your stove works well. Shake the jar periodically. When the month is up, strain the oil using a loose strainer. Calendula petals are too big for a very fine strainer. Once the oil has been poured off, go ahead and press the petals to get as much oil squeezed out as you can. Seal the jar and store in a dark spot. You can use the oil for up to 12 months, but always make sure to give it a sniff to make sure that it has not 'turned'.